Tension between Singaporeans and foreigners residing here, if left unattended, can lead to the Republic’s decline into irrelevance on the global stage, prominent businessman Ho Kwon Ping warned today (Nov 4).

“One of the major reasons that I think we can decline is what I would call social schizophrenia – the tension between the demands of a global city which in many ways we are and remaining a parochial kampong which we still are… This tension between the Singapore core and foreign talent, this us versus them, it can become, if we’re not careful, a schizo-city.”

To prevent this from happening, all parties must learn to celebrate diversity instead of merely tolerating differences among people. In this area, companies, civil society, and the Government can take the lead to create a more cohesive society in Singapore, he added.

“Companies themselves… should create diversity and inclusion committee and really try to engender diversification. If we look at statistics on gender representation on the political level, the corporate level, the boardroom level, the management level, Singapore actually has not done well compared to other countries,” said Mr Ho, who is the executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings.

Speaking at the Semi-Centennial Leadership Conference organised by the Singapore Business Federation, Mr Ho said that civil society and the Government should promote “a sense of diversity” beyond the current four major ethnic groups here – Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others.

He noted that there are three types of cities in the world: Homogenous cities, those that are diverse but cohesive, and those that are diverse and divided. Given Singapore’s unique situation of a diverse population and large foreign population divided by income levels, the Republic can set a new standard for “cohesive diversity”.

“My point is we can have a choice to create a shiny exemplary paradigm of Singapore as a society. If we are aware of all these things that we need to do, then essentially all of us with our own businesses in our economy can aspire towards a common goal. If we do not have a common goal, we’re just running our own individual businesses,” he said.

Another risk that could lead to Singapore’s decline is economic stagnation, he said. This is a trend that is “unfortunately” observed in the local capital market now, in which the stock exchange is “becoming smaller and smaller in the regional and the global context”, he added.

Originally posted here: Local-foreigner tension can make Singapore irrelevant, says Ho Kwon Ping | TODAYonline